There’s a breast pump which makes a similar sound to the opening bars of a track by Daft Punk called ‘Robot Rock’. Who knew? Lauren Laverne brought this to my attention this morning on her ‘House Music’ feature on Radio 6 Music. LSB laughed when he heard it, concurring that the intro did indeed echo the ‘whirring sound’ of a breast pump in full flow (pardon the pun).
I was pleased that he could now laugh about it, because as I packed up the pump and gave it away a few years ago he said ‘Thank f**k for that.’ LSB hated the breast pump. I hated the breast pump. When I think of the word ‘futile’ I think of the word breast pump and the effort that went in to extracting half an ounce of milk, and I was the proud owner of a ‘Medela’, which was apparently the Rolls Royce of breast pumps. Whatever it was, it was incompatible with my malfunctioning mammaries. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to use a breast pump I don’t suggest that you listen to this tune, lest it triggers your PTSD.
Once, after laboriously extracting some milk I managed to fasten the teat on the bottle incorrectly, and as I fed it to my parched baby, I saw it leak out and run down the front of her bib. I dropped the C-bomb in my distress, very loudy. To any mums out there who are finding breast feeding too hard, can I urge you to try give the bottle a go as backup. Breast may be best, but a starving baby is in nobody’s best interests at all.
These memories came flooding back to me this morning because my oldest child turns nine at the end of the month. I am thinking back to a time when I was unfamiliar with words like colic and gripe water and nipple shields. I may have heard of them, but I did not appreciate their import. I had no actual experience. It’s a bit like now when parents mention the transfer test. I see their faces cloud and their jaws clench, and I think, oh fuck, that’ll be me soon, running to the chemist for Imodium when all that palaver kicks off.
It’s funny though, because in some ways I feel like we’ve returned to a similar chaos these days, in these surreal times. When it comes to leaving house it’s not unlike what it was like with a newborn, except now we’re hunting for face masks and sanitiser and poo bags for the dog. There’s a similar pressure simmering under the surface. Things can fall apart fast.
And in the midst of this the mean little inner voice is saying ‘Hurry up!’ and ‘How can you be stupid!’ and ‘Seriously, did you forget the mask? Again?’
And we’re not stupid and we’re not crazy. We’re all just very, very tired. I wish I could have chatted to my sleep-addled self when my baby was weeks old and not latching and not sleeping. I would have told me to cut myself some slack. And so I’m trying to do that now when all is strange and odd and stressful. I’m drinking a lot of tea. I’m spending time with the people who make me smile. I’m spraying on my Miss Dior perfume that I only wear for going out. I’m putting on some shimmery fake tan. What I do know for sure, is that me walking round with a face on me like a well-slapped arse isn’t making anyone’s day any better. I know that as the stoics say, “this too shall pass.’ But in the meantime, we have to do what we can to make it bearable.